The 28th ASEAN Senior Transport Officials Meeting (STOM 28) opened in Hanoi on Dec. 7 with the participation of representatives from the ten member countries.

Addressing the biannual meeting, Vietnamese Transport Minister Ho Nghia Dung hailed the idea of “ASEAN linkage” in order to reach the target of an ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 as set by the association’s leaders at the last ASEAN Summit in Thailand .

He called on senior ASEAN transport officials to exert more efforts to soon implement ASEAN agreements on transport and boost cooperation with their partners, including Japan, the Republic of Korea and China to come up with effective measures for infrastructure development.

On the opening day, the participants discussed aviation cooperation in the region.

On the ASEAN Multilateral Agreement on the Full Liberalisation of Passenger Air Services, eight of the ten ASEAN members were ready to sign the deal, while Indonesia and Malaysia needed more time to complete their procedures. The head delegates to the STOM 28 agreed to try their best to sign the agreement in 2010.

The participants all announced that they were ready to sign the Protocol to implement the 6th package of Commitments on Air Transport Services.

They also said that almost all members were ready to grant power to the ASEAN General Secretary to sign the ASEAN-EU sponsor agreement on the project on ASEAN Air Transport Integration with an authorised EU representative. They expressed their hope that the agreement would be signed by the end of this year.

The same day, the ASEAN transport officials worked on cooperation in marine and land transport. All ASEAN members said that they were ready to sign the memorandum of understanding on marine accident investigation, but for Thailand which needed two weeks more to complete local procedures.

Myanmar said it completed procedures for the signing of the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Cross Border Transportation. With Myanmar’s signing of this agreement, the ten member countries can move forward with its implementation.

The participants also agreed to accelerate the implementation of three agreements on transportation in the ASEAN region.

The meeting will run through Dec. 9./.